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President Trump on Racism; Trump Administration Ramping Up Deportations. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired February 21, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: The White House should be saying Mr. Bannon is not welcome in the Principals Committee.
They shouldn't put the onus on the new national security adviser.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Ass backyards, that's a first I have heard from you.
MUDD: Ass backwards.
BALDWIN: Phil Mudd, stay with me.
Steve, I'm coming to you. Let's move off of that.
Let's talk about this 11-year CIA veteran calling it quits. His reason, he says, President Trump. Edward Price is his name. He says he worked proudly for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
But he says he could not -- quote -- "in good faith" serve this administration. In "The Washington Post" this morning, he wrote, in part: "As intelligence professionals, we're taught to tune out politics. The river separating CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, from Washington might as well be a political moat. But this administration has flipped that dynamic on its head: The politicians are the ones tuning out the intelligence professionals."
So, Steve, the question to you is, we are one month in, and he's already saying, I'm out. How alarming is that?
STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA OFFICER: It is alarming, especially if it is reflective of the rank and file at CIA. And I hope it's not, because there's a lot of good people there. And the American people really rely on them for a lot of national security and a lot of intelligence production. I hope that doesn't happen.
But it's an interesting window into what is probably going on inside the agency and at the NSC as well. I focused on one particular part of his piece that again gets back to the whole Bannon issue, which is, one of the things that really, really disturbed this officer was the idea intelligence flows through the system, and then, right at the end, as Phil mentioned quite correctly, ends up in the hands of some political commissar who then can repackage, massage, decide as to what the president sees. And that's against everything that anybody who's ever been an intelligence officer stands for. We need to get neutral, political- free information to the senior most policy-makers. And to have something stand in the way of that is horrific.
BALDWIN: Phil, what did you think when you read it?
MUDD: Well, I think we got to separate substance and style.
Substantively, I think there are a couple issues that are important. I do believe -- and I talk to a lot of my friends at the agency. There's a lot of nervousness about the president that goes beyond Democrat and Republican.
I think, when you look at the substance of what the president has done, for example, his quick comments on foreign policy don't always seem to be well-considered. He talked about a one-state solution for Israel and his advisers immediately says, no, that's not what we're doing.
In terms of style, he's been abusive toward the intelligence community, including both the FBI and the agency. That said, 30 days in, I would be saying, boy, that's a little quick to pull the trigger.
A lot of what the president has done in terms of naming advisers and what's he actually done on the ground, not much on Russia, for example, despite what he said, and his advisers have been tough on Russia. I would have given it a little more time to pull the trigger on I'm getting out.
BALDWIN: Phil and Steve, thank you.
HALL: Thank you.
BALDWIN: All right. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN here.
After growing criticism of a week response, President Trump gives the White House -- what the White House says is a strong message against the uptick in threats against Jewish communities in our country.
One the latest cases here, look at this, vandals toppling about 100 headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Missouri. The Jewish Community Center Association says 48 centers in 26 states and one Canadian province received just shy of 60 bomb threats just last month.
The president gave his comments this morning after touring the Smithsonian's African American Museum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.
The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Just to add to the president's message, we just heard Sean Spicer at the daily briefing there focusing on this wave of threat.
Let me first go to our White House correspondent Sara Murray.
And more from Sean Spicer there obviously condemning these threats.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
He did condemn them and he once again said that the president is going to fight back against anti-Semitism in deed and in action. But he also took pains to say that he sort of felt like this question was asked and answered, that he feels like the president has already made it clear that he will not stand for anti-Semitism, for anti-Semitic acts.
Obviously, there are Trump critics today, including Hillary Clinton, who to Twitter to air her grievances this morning, who feel otherwise. So I think, Brooke, if you're someone who has watched President Trump over the last two years when he was a candidate sort of struggle to denounce racism, struggle to denounce anti-Semitism, you might still have questions after this.
But it seems pretty clear that the White House is not really interested in entertaining any more of those. Spicer says it is done and now it is up to the president to show over the next couple of years to voters that he is going to be a president for everyone.
BALDWIN: Quickly, Sara, also today on the DHS memo and the guidance on the Trump administration enforcing immigration, from what I understand, the bottom line is, hey, we're just going to reinforce policies already in place, there will be no mass deportation and the dreamer program will stay intact?
MURRAY: That's true. They described it -- Spicer described it as taking the shackles off of ICE.
They're essentially allowing them greater freedom to deport people that they determine are criminals. And DHS has acknowledged their view of criminals looks different than it did under the Obama administration.
But I think the other thing we saw is Sean Spicer saying there's no plans to make changes to DACA right now. That's the kind of thing that Trump supporters certainly on the right may be disappointed to hear. We haven't heard whether that's going to stay in place indefinitely, but certainly that does seem the decision at least for the time being.
And, of course, Brooke, the other thing you know we're waiting for this week is the new travel ban, the new immigration action from the White House, and we're expecting that in the next couple of days.
BALDWIN: Any day now. Sara Murray, thank you so much at the White House.
Back though to the threats and these incidents of anti-Semitism across the country. You recall President Trump getting testy last week when he was first asked about an increase in anti-Semitism. I want you to just pay close attention to the reporter who stood up to ask this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TURX, "AMI": We've seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. And I wonder what you say to those among the Jewish community in the States, and in Israel, and maybe around the world who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?
TRUMP: Well, I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory that we had -- 306 Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221, but then they said there's no way to 270.
And there's tremendous enthusiasm out there. I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. We are
going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that's going on.
TURX: There's been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to...
TRUMP: He said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question. And it's not. It's not, not -- not a simple question, not a fair question. OK, sit down, I understand the rest of your question.
So here's the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person. In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican -- quiet, quiet, quiet.
See, he lied about -- he was going to get up and ask a very straight, simple question, so you know, welcome to the world of the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The reporter shaking his head and quieted is Jake Turx, is the Orthodox Jewish reporter for "Ami" magazine, who asked that question in that last clip we showed you.
Jake, thank you so much for coming on.
Kate Bennett is back with us today. She's one of our White House reporters. So, Kate, great to see you.
But, Jake, I remember making the note you were asked to sit down, you asked the question, the president did not directly condemn the attacks. You saw what he said this morning at the museum there in Washington. Was the condemnation strong enough?
TURX: Well, Brooke, the president is absolutely right. anti-Semitism is not a simple thing, as he had said.
And we have these attacks and these threats of violence. But on the same hand, we have the ability to talk about this in a fair and open forum, which is such a blessing that the Jewish people didn't have in other countries before coming to the United States.
BALDWIN: One of the questions is, why now? Why not condemn when he was with you or with the Israeli prime minister some time after.
And, Kate, one interesting piece of this today is the tweet from Hillary Clinton. Of all issues that she could have directly tweeted toward the president, she picked this one.
And this is she said: "JCC threats, cemetery desecration and online attacks are so troubling, and they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting with the president of the United States."
What role do you think she played here and why this issue?
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brooke, it's unclear.
This is the first time she has actually called him out by name. She make that 3-0 tweet a few weeks ago after the immigration ban was not passed by the judges. But she didn't say POTUS. Today, she said say POTUS.
And it could on the heels of Chelsea Clinton has been calling out President Trump on Twitter about this last night, earlier yesterday. She could just be finding her voice. Obviously, this is something that really resonates with Hillary Clinton and the rest of the country. And she felt strongly enough that this was the time that she decided to really take to her social media and try his route and call him out.
BALDWIN: Jake, when you look at the numbers, this is 48 centers in 26 states and one Canadian province all received just shy of 60 bomb threats just last month alone. Why do you think this is happening right now?
TURX: Well, part of what's so troubling is that we don't really know.
We don't know why it's happening. And we don't even know if and how it being investigated. If I would have been fortuitous enough to have an extra six seconds to complete my question, it essentially would have been, Mr. President, what do you feel was within the rights of the -- you know, I don't have my notes in front of me right now, but basically it would have been, what do you think it is the duty of the executive branch of the federal government to do about this?
Not specifically or personally against him, but as a generalization, what does he feel the government can and perhaps should do to address it?
And we don't know what's being done yet. Obviously, the president's strong statement today was a very, very good step in the right direction.
BALDWIN: But, again, just going back to hearing from Sean Spicer saying, hey, you know what, stop asking this, he has answered it, even back to election night, when the president -- the newly elected president stood up there and said, yes, it's a country divided, but I will unify.
What more do you want to hear?
TURX: I think that if concrete -- look, this president is a man of action. He's always been a man of action his entire career. And he doesn't need me to say this.
And so it seems like he's thinking, hey, let's actually do things to counter this. And let's not look for just cheap sound bites that a typical politician would have given under the circumstances. So it could be that's why the president didn't give that much credence to having to just go out and release a statement. But it is very helpful that he did.
BALDWIN: We know his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism and marrying Jared Kushner, Kate. She tweeted about this. She was on this on Twitter before her dad.
And a member of Congress even said that's great, thank you so much for condemning, but we need to be hearing from your father.
Do you know at all behind the scenes, had she talked to her father? Was she in his ear before this morning?
BENNETT: Yes, I think we all know that Ivanka Trump is very close to her dad and he listens to her. And she sort of helps sort of soften him up a bit, especially on these very human issues.
So I wouldn't be surprised if they spoke. I'm not surprised that Ivanka decided to tweet on her own to her millions of followers in support. Like you said, she's a practicing Orthodox Jew. She's raising her children, her husband.
And President Trump has pointed to Ivanka before as sort of, I'm not anti-Semitic. My daughter, my grandchildren, et cetera, are Jewish.
So, I'm not super surprised. And at her urging and maybe at her tweeting, he might have taken the lead there. She was also with him this morning as he toured with him the Smithsonian African American Museum here in Washington.
She's a comforting presence to him. She's obviously not afraid of speaking her mind and putting her kids on Instagram and making him grandpa Trump and softening the edges. So I wouldn't be surprised if she did have some influence today.
BALDWIN: Kate, as always, thank you. Jake, a pleasure. Thanks so much for coming on.
TURX: Thanks, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Now for more on the crackdown on immigration by the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security just issued two memos on how law enforcement will handle undocumented immigrants in the country, but what it does not say is equally important.
There are no mass deportation forces and DHS officials point out the guidelines are a new way of acting on existing laws. Among the multiple directives in the memos, declare the end of what's known as catch and release, prioritize the arrest of undocumented criminals, including nonviolent offense, direct local law enforcement to take on immigration duties.
Yet the directives also keep in contact the dreamer program. That was President Obama's order that allowed 750,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children to legally work and go to school.
Here's more from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Is one of the goals here mass deportation?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No.
QUESTION: Not at all?
SPICER: I think what we have to get back to is understanding a couple things.
There's a law in place that says if you're in this country illegally that we have an obligation to make sure the people who are in our country are here legally. What the order sets out today is ensures that the million or so people that have been adjudicated already, that ICE prioritizes, creates a system of prioritization and make sure that we walk through that system in a way that protects this country.
The message from this White House and from the DHS is that those people who are in this country and posed a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go and we will be aggressively making first that that occurs. For so long, the people at ICE and CBP had their hands cuffed behind
them, and when they were going to deal with the mission of their job. The last administration had so many carve-outs for who could be and who couldn't be adjudicated that it very difficult for the Customs and Enforcement people to do their job and enforce the laws of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Joining me now, Greisa Martinez. She's a dreamer. She came to the U.S. as a child of and is now an advocate for undocumented immigrants.
Greisa, so nice to meet you. Thanks for coming on.
GREISA MARTINEZ, UNITED WE DREAM: Thanks for having me.
BALDWIN: Before we get into even your backstory and your father's deportation, just on the news today, you saw Sean Spicer. The notion, the goal is not mass deportation, the dreamer program staying intact. How do you feel about it all?
BALDWIN: That was a deep sigh.
MARTINEZ: Yes, I wish I could say that it gave me some peace, but I will not have peace until I know that my mother who is undocumented in Dallas, Texas, is not being persecuted by this administration.
And Trump has basically labeled her as a criminal, as a threat to national security.
BALDWIN: Why do you say that?
MARTINEZ: Because that's what the memos say.
They say anyone that came into this country that is undocumented, that anyone that is able to find themselves in this country without proper documentation is subject to removal. So there's been some estimates that this order might lead to more than eight million, to 11 million deportations.
And I don't know what Mr. Spicer would want to call this, but this is mass deportation.
BALDWIN: So you do see it as mass deportation, even though he stressed over and over we are prioritizing and our priorities are finding those in this country who shouldn't be here, who aren't keeping our country safe, who have committed crimes should go?
Key to point out, though, he didn't define what the crime could be. MARTINEZ: Exactly.
BALDWIN: Between a broken taillight and, you know, who knows what.
MARTINEZ: Yes, I think the strategy is clear here for Donald Trump.
One is to put a label of criminals on around 11 million people and make us all deportable. It's the same strategy he has with the media when he calls people fake and not news and wanting people to disregard them.
That's what he's trying to do to actual people and say these people are criminals, you should not fight for them, why are you fighting for them?
We know that his ICE agents have not been following his instructions. We know that Daniel Ramirez from Washington stayed as a DACA recipient and is currently behind bars in Washington state. Even though the president has proclaimed love for people like myself and people that have DACA, Daniel is still in detention even today.
And so I think, for me, I will not have peace until these executive orders are rescinded, until we have a permanent decision for immigrant youth and until I know I can go back to Texas and hug my mother once again.
And, today, I do not have that assurance.
BALDWIN: Greisa, what would you then say, though, to Trump supporters who would say to you, listen, I feel for your family, but your parents chose to come here illegally and it's not fair for all those people who are waiting in line?
MARTINEZ: Yes, I would say too look around you and everyone around you is someone that has had dreams and had aspirations.
And my parents are no different. They chose to come into this country because they had dreams for myself and my little sisters, because they knew that this was the land to be able to provide it for them. And fortunately it became true. I am still here. My sisters are pursuing doctoral degrees.
And we are part of this fabric. And so the question to Trump supporters, the question to Speaker Ryan and Republicans in Congress is, what will you do now that we're part of your community? What will you do now with us? Will you stand with us and make sure that Donald Trump does not enact his mass deportation agenda or are you going to just sit back and watch it happen to us?
BALDWIN: Greisa, thank you, Greisa Martinez in Washington.
MARTINEZ: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Just in, he's been called a professional provocateur. Moments ago, a major development involving the Breitbart News editor whose controversial comments just got him disinvited from a major conservative conference. What he just announced, that's next.
Also, President Trump speaking out today against anti-Semitism and bigotry, but critics say this is too little too late. The Anne Frank Center taking it further, calling President Trump's administration the most anti-Semitic in history. We will talk to the director of that center and hear the White House response.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
President Trump's visit today to the National Museum of African American History and Culture was his first. Daughter Ivanka went with him. And his HUD secretary nominee, Dr. Ben Carson, Dr. Carson has an exhibit there dedicated to his historic medical career.
Also with the president today, Reverend Martin Luther King's niece, the Reverend Alveda King.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Today and every day of my presidency, I pledge to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African- Americans and for every American, so important. Nothing more important.
We're going to bring this country together, maybe bring some of the world together. But we're going to bring this country together.
We have a divided country. It's been divided for many, many years, but we're going to bring it together. I hope every day of my presidency, we will be honoring the determination and work towards a very worthy goal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now, Paris Dennard, CNN political commentator and director of black outreach for President George W. Bush, and Keith Boykin, Democratic strategist and former Clinton White House aide.
Gentlemen, nice to see both of you.
Paris, let me just begin with you. We just heard Sean Spicer characterize the visit as eye-opening for the president. Can you just talk to me? I know you weren't there. Several other members of the administration, as we pointed out, were.
What was that like for him, and why choose that location for the final condemnation of the anti-Semitic threats in this country?
PARIS DENNARD, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, Brooke, I think it was an important visit for the president to make, because what people forget or what people should remember is that wherever the president goes he highlights to the world, through the lens of CNN, he's highlighting to the world what is important, what he values, and what is important to American values.
So by visiting this museum, he's showing the world and every American that this museum, it has importance, it has value and you should visit it and understand it. And the link to our Jewish brothers and sisters is profound.
It was not by mistake that our first lady visited the same museum last week with Mrs. Netanyahu, the wife of the prime minister of Israel. And it is important for Americans to remember the link that African- Americans have with our Jewish American brothers and sisters and the struggle and the painful parts of our past and the joy that can come by looking at what we can accomplish as a people together united, because, in the civil rights movement, many times when you saw people marching, you saw African-Americans marching with rabbis.
And that was part of our history. So it was important for the president to come there today and make that definitive statement against anti-Semitism. And I hope all Americans take it for what it was, which is the president saying 100 percent it has to end, and it will end and we have to unite.
BALDWIN: Keith, to you.
Before I get to you, just context. I think, according to reports, this visit to this museum was on the books some weeks ago, back on MLK Day. That never happened. We know the president openly sparred with civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis. He called him all talk and no action.
And then that set off this whole firestorm with the president. And it was Congressman Lewis who was the brains behind this museum. The president did see the exhibit. We just heard from Sean Spicer. He saw the congressman's exhibit.
This is how Sean Spicer actually described that moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: If you haven't been there, you walk up this one ramp and they stop and there's two big screens. And one of them is a video screen. And it's a massive JumboTron, right.
And we watched the video of John Lewis, and talking there, and describing his efforts in championing of voting and civil rights. And so I don't -- I know the president paused and watched it and listened to it.
And, again, I would just go back to how he described his overall -- we didn't dissect the different things. But I watched him. And it was a very powerful experience for him. And I know he looks forward to going back.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Keith, I know there's been no love lost between you and the president, but, that said, can you appreciate that he went?
KEITH BOYKIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, I can appreciate that, Brooke.
And I can appreciate the fact that he actually saw the John Lewis exhibit and saw part of the video. I think that's a good step for him.
I think he still needs to apologize to John Lewis, who is a civil rights icon. I think he still needs to apologize to President Obama for spending five years denigrating and delegitimizing his presidency and questioning his birth certificate.
I think he still needs to apologize to the five African-American Latino boys in the Central Park 5 who he accused of engaging in a rape that they did not engage in, and has to this day not apologized for that.
I think he still needs to ask for repentance for his housing discrimination policies going back to the Trump Organization, when he was engaging in rental discrimination, and the Justice Department had to sue him under a Republican president.
This president has done little to unify this country.
BALDWIN: Forgive me, Keith.
Does he need to apologize?
DENNARD: I think the president's visit today on Congressman John Lewis' birthday speak volumes. And I think his actions are going to speak volumes.
And so you may have -- words might mean something to some people, but I want to hear and see his actions. And I believe his actions for my community, the black community, is going to be so significant, especially as it relates to HBCUs, education, and Dr. Carson, who was featured at the museum, in Housing and Urban Development.
He's going to do good things. And so his actions are going to mean more than any words, in my opinion.